Members of a far-right, Neo-Nazi movement harassed theatregoers Tuesday night. Parade‘s producers, star Ben Platt respond.
This story has been updated to include a statement from Parade’s star Ben Platt.
On February 21, as patrons lined up for the first preview performance of the Broadway revival of Parade—a musical about the true story of the false conviction and murder of a Jewish man named Leo Frank in 1915—members of a far-right, Neo-Nazi movement protested outside of the Jacobs Theatre. The individuals carried signs with hateful rhetoric hand-written, shouting at theatre-goers and attempting to give out antisemitic flyers to those in line to see the show.
It was an ironic display of antisemitism considering that the Parade musical is an indictment against hatred. Parade, a musical written by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry, dramatizes the life and tragic death of Frank, who was a Jewish factory manager living in Georgia in the early 20th century. He was falsely convicted of murdering 13-year-old factory worker Mary Phagan. He was sentenced to life in prison. But Frank was then subsequently lynched by an angry white mob. After Frank’s death, it was revealed that Phagan was murdered by Jim Conley, another factory worker. Frank has since been exonerated.
The far-right white supremacist group, known as “The National Socialist movement,” protested the show on the basis of denouncing Frank’s innocence. Their flyers also described their opposition to the Anti-Defamation League, a non-profit civil rights law group that assists victims of antisemitic allegations. The League was founded over a century ago in response to Frank’s murder.
The flyers handed out by the Neo-Nazis also mentioned a streaming platform from another antisemitic group, the Goyim Defense League. That group came up in the news recently as being linked to the perpetrator of the antisemitic shootings in Los Angeles last week—who has since been charged with hate crimes.
When called upon for a statement, the Parade producers told Playbill: “If there is any remaining doubt out there about the urgency of telling this story in this moment in history, the vileness on display tonight should put it to rest.”
A video shared by The Forward editor Jake Wasserman on Twitter, originally filmed by Madeleine Blossom, shows the scene outside of the Jacobs Theatre earlier this evening. The video, and others like it, showed Neo-Nazis holding large signs calling Frank a pedophile, and shouting antisemitic and racist slurs. The police were called to keep the protestors from harassing audience members going into the show.
Members of the Parade cast watched the disturbing display from their dressing room windows. One of the show’s swings, Prentiss E. Mouton, posted on his Instagram story: “Are you really doing the real work of an artist if you aren’t be[ing] protested by Neo-Nazis? If I wasn’t proud enough to be a part of this production, it was solidified today.”